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Album Review: 600 Years in a Moment
Fiona Joy Hawkins
Cover image of the album 600 Years in a Moment by Fiona Joy Hawkins
600 Years in a Moment
Fiona Joy Hawkins
2013 / Fiona Joy HAwkins
65 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
600 Years in a Moment is the much-anticipated new release from Fiona Joy Hawkins. From the stunning cover artwork to the very last note of the music, this album could stand as Hawkins’ magnum opus. Fiona told me last year that she felt that this was her best work to date. As much as I love Blue Dream, I would have to agree. The project was created as an answer to the question of musical “globalisation” with Hawkins performing on a hand-made Stuart and Sons piano (an Australian company that respects traditional piano building while embracing innovation) with an impressive list of supporting artists playing an assortment of ancient musical instruments from all over the world. Most of the twelve tracks are new music, but a few old favorites appear with new arrangements. The album was produced by the team of Will Ackerman, Corin Nelsen, and Hawkins, and was recorded and engineered by Nelsen at Imaginary Road Studios.

600 Years in a Moment begins with “600 Years,” a piece that combines spoken word (Fiona), Gaelic vocals (Heather Rankin), and a fascinating combination of instruments that includes piano, Irish whistles, wooden flute, Spanish laud, electric guitar, bass guitar, Irish bodhran, and cello. The voices are ethereal yet earthy, as are the instruments. Calm yet magical, it sets the tone for the rest of the album. The languid and sensual “Naked Love” features piano, violin, Mongolian morin khuur, throat singing, Chinese bawu, Hopi drum, Romanian bells, obsidian chimes, and Japanese Kubota. Eclectic, no? “The Journey,” a favorite, includes Charlie Bisharat on violin as well as wordless vocals, Egyptian water bottle(!!!) and electric upright bass guitar. A bit more uptempo than the previous tracks, it expresses movement and anticipation. “Earthbound” is the only piano solo, and what a fluid, beautiful piece it is - I love the sound of that piano!!! The smooth and elegant “Gliding” has appeared previously, but the instrumentation is somewhat different on this recording - another beauty! The instrumentation becomes even more exotic on the sensuous “Tango in Wednesday”: Hungarian tarogato, Turkish oud, Columbian tiple, African djun djun, tubano, doumbek, tam-tam, deer toenails(!!!),African cabasa, Tibetan tingsha bell, Middle Eastern riq, etc. I know what a few of those are, but only a few! As incongruous as the mix sounds, it’s an incredible combination that works beautifully! “Running On Joy” has appeared before with slightly different titles, but this delightful burst of musical energy is always distinctive with the sound of the Australian didgeridoo. “Flight of the Albatross” appeared on Hawkins’ second album and has gone through a variety of incarnations over the years. It’s still one of my favorites and appears here as “Ancient Albatross.” The piano really sings on this one! “Captured Freedom” has a much simpler instrumentation with piano, violin, and Irish whistle - a rather unusual but very effective combination. The whistle really brings out feelings of longing - lovely! “Forgiveness” closes the album with a gentle but very evocative duet for Chinese bawu and piano - another unusual but very effective pairing.

Fiona Joy Hawkins makes it clear on 600 Years In a Moment why she has become an artist with an international following. This album is available in several formats including CD, download, and audiophile-quality vinyl. Check it out at fionajoy.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
July 6, 2013
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